Zèta, a zero-waste leather manufacturer from Portugal, has teamed up with Nespresso to design a sneaker collection made from recycled coffee grounds.

Founded in September 2020, the fashion startup was initially a footwear company focused on trainers made from recycled paper and organic grape waste. After receiving a message on LinkedIn in January 2021 from Guillaume Le Cunff, CEO of Nespresso, asking, “What about coffee?” Laure Babin, CEO of Zèta, realised that there was no coffee leather on the market and was inspired to develop a new coffee material that could be made into trainers.

Although Nestlé, Nespresso’s parent company, receives much criticism for its subpar performance in the sustainability area, the company still places sustainability at the centre of its business practices. Aligned with its goals, Nespresso found a business partner in Zèta, which can reuse the coffee grounds it receives through its capsule return policy.

Zèta’s limited-edition RE:GROUND line of coffee sneakers is made of 80% recycled and repurposed materials. According to the company, each pair of shoes from the sneakers collection contains 12 espressos’ worth of recycled Nespresso coffee grounds combined with vegan leather in the upper parts of the shoes as well as the soles.

This is also apparent in the design itself as “all the brown details of the shoe contain coffee. The soles have a speckled effect that comes from particles of recycled rubber and coffee grounds,” says Babin.

To stay true to its sustainability goals, Zèta sells its shoes only in Europe, rejecting and avoiding carbon footprint by sending the shoes across the ocean. The shoes are produced in a manufacturing facility in Portugal where coffee grounds are separated from aluminium capsules.

We can no longer only use sustainable materials or natural resources. We have an abundance of waste we can use. The idea was to give another life to waste and create a new product combining innovation, aestheticism and durability.

Laure Babin, CEO, Zèta

The beginnings were challenging, according to Babin, as they didn’t know how to make leather from coffee grounds. The company set out on its quest to locate vendors who could work on the research and development necessary to produce vegan leather made from coffee.

Zèta found Tintex Textiles, a leader in the innovative textile market in Portugal. Babin said that Tintex boarded the project happily, and after “eight months of testing, research, and development, Tintex created a coffee material that could be processed into trainers,” Babin says.

Nespresso is not the only international company eyeing coffee leather as a worthy substitute for real leather. Volkswagen Group has recently announced that it would be “working on the next generation of ecological materials for vehicle interiors.” The automotive manufacturer stated it is already researching coffee as an alternative to leather and whether it meets the company’s quality criteria.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *